Whether directly or indirectly, stress is responsible for the majority of visits to the doctor. Stress can be physical, environmental, mental-emotional, social and even spiritual. Naturopathic doctors like myself help people suffering from the ill effects of stress on a daily basis, including these common concerns:
- Anxiety and depression
- IBS and GERD
- Unexplained fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Sugar cravings
As always, our goal is to identify and treat the cause of your health concerns. While it is often impossible to avoid stress itself, there are many tools at our disposal for mitigating the harmful health effects of stress in our bodies.
Botanical medicines with adaptogenic properties are often used to treat individuals under stress. There are many useful options but choosing the right herb for you is important. We must be mindful of drug-herb interactions. What is safe for one person may be harmful to another. We must also use an evidence-based therapeutic dosage, choosing a good quality product containing the right ingredients, so that it actually works.
Every meal and snack you consume has the potential to support your stress response or sabotage your defences. Supporting a healthy blood sugar response is key to sustaining your energy over a demanding day, and to support restful sleep at night. Simple adjustments to your diet can have a profound impact on your emotional wellbeing and your ability to cope with the demands of your day. In addition to healthy food, targeted therapy with vitamin and mineral supplements or nutraceuticals can be extremely helpful in some individuals.
Getting enough exercise is essential to coping with stress. Moving your body gives your brain feedback that you have successfully escaped whatever stressor is being perceived as a thread, thus shutting off the fight/flight impulse and letting you get back to rest/digest mode. Exercise doesn’t need to look the same for everyone. Hate the gym? Dance in your living room for 20-30 min per day.
If you’re not sleeping, stress is a problem and you’re likely feeling it. We need to sleep for 8 hours per night in order to function optimally. Lack of sleep has far reaching consequences on your health. We also need time to relax and enjoy pleasurable activities every day, in order for our nervous system to have some “chill time”. If this isn’t happening, we should talk.